Neighbour Is Taking Advantage of my Elderly Parents

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

My elderly parents live in a semi detached dormer bungalow. Their next door neighbours are having a massive side and rear extension. When the plans went in my parents entered discussions with their neighbour. My parents have a conservatory that goes up to the party wall. They agreed to the extension but asked that is was kept 18 inches away from the party wall so that they were able to maintain the conservatory.

This was all verbally agreed. The extension progressed and when the extension wall was built it was built up to the party wall. My parents spoke with the neighbour and he denied saying he would leave the agreed 18 inches and said it was the Building Inspector that had made him go up to the party wall. Part of the extension is a bigger rear dormer, which has again gone up to the party line on the roof. The new roof has just been put on and overhangs my parent’s property by between 4 and 6 inches.

Because of this I have just spoken with the Building Inspector who tells me my parents should have been served with a party wall notice 2 months before building work began. He also stated that he had said that they could go to the party line but only with permission. My parents have never had a notice and have not given their consent to build up to the party wall.

Should either the planning or the Building Inspector have checked that this notice was in existence? As we are now well into this build what if anything can be done?

Answer

Unfortunately the Planning Office or Local Building Control do not play any part in party wall procedures. It is difficult to believe that your neighbour’s architect would not have made them aware of the Act.

It does appear that the work was notifiable to your parents but it is probably too late do anything under the Act at this stage if the work is nearing completion. The neighbours have a right to build up to (but not over) the boundary line and would not have required your parent’s consent to do that. If the building has encroached upon your parent’s land then they should make the neighbour aware of it and request that they abate their trespass. Should they refuse the only way to protect the boundary would be to take them to court.